What the people say about: What the gov't did for them in 2003 By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
April 5, 2004

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Last Monday during the annual budget presentation the government announced some of the major projects that were either undertaken or completed in 2003. We asked members of the public to explain what the government did for them during the last year and what they hope is done this year. Here are the responses we got:

Nelson Sarwan - security guard: `I've been waiting for a house lot. They told me I have to have two children. I had one and now I have another child but I still haven't gotten the house lot as yet and I have been waiting five years. Right now, I am living in an old house. I put black plastic on the windows over my bed just to protect us from the rain. The hall has old zinc over it to drain the water and that's what I have my wife and two children living in. I got a letter two years ago; they told me that I got the lot. But when I went in to their main office, they told me that they are not ready as yet. As for last year, they haven't really done anything. It's just the same, except for the road, it is getting worse.'

Kamlowattie Singh - maid: `The government did a lot of good things last year. The President helped me to get a piece of land. It wasn't easy so I went to the President and through his intervention I got the land. This year... I don't need anything but I know if I do I can always go to the President, he will always assist.'

Michael Scott - landscaper: `With a little help from the government I was able to start a small business last year. It is still growing but for this year, I would like a better environment for the cottage industries. I want to hear that people have an easy go ahead to start the cottage businesses, like making jams and jellies and cheese. A lot of people have the skills but can't start up because they require that you start on a large scale with a factory. They also need to place a limited restriction on imports. I don't believe in stopping them completely but we [should] limit some imports of products that we can produce locally, to give the local producers some advantage.'

Sophia King - computer operator: `I think when we got our own people running GPL again was the best thing the government did last year. We are getting a better service now. We get notices when they are going to hold blackouts, although we still get some unscheduled ones. But it is better that we have our own people running the place instead of people from outside who are not giving us the value for money. But what I want for this year is for the government to create more jobs so that people over 30 can at least afford their own house. Also, the current cellular system is not adequate. It definitely needs an improvement. I think they have taken more people than they can handle on the platform. If they can't handle so many people, they should stop giving people phones and give other people who want to come into the business a chance. You have to have competition so you can get value for money.'

Tandika Cox - student/sales clerk: `In my area they patched up the bad spots on Aubrey Barker Road. But that is both good and bad. The minibuses are now taking advantage of it and you know that South has the craziest drivers. But as for improvements that I would like to see, they should really do something about the fixed cellular phones that we have because whenever you get a blackout the phones don't work. And we have been getting frequent blackouts. They also need to do something about the floods. As soon as it rains a little the streets are flooded and that is one of the reasons that contributes to deterioration of the road. As for the water we receive, it's of very poor quality, it always has sediments. You cannot drink tap water.'

Terrel Burnette - private sector employee: `In the area that I live I do see some improvement in the roads, there has been tremendous improvement in the water service and electricity as well. Those are probably the basic things. What I think the government can do this year is concentrate more on the crime situation. That is one of the things hampering a lot of people from doing a lot of investment. Crime was just undercover for a little while; the tentacles are starting to grow again. I think crime should be the top priority.'

Megan Cave - housewife: `The government did nothing for me in the last year and this year is actually the same thing. I thought my pension would go up a little more but it hasn't. I worked a lot of years for this country and I need more. It is something that they should look into. I would also like them to do something about all the unemployed young people who are just sitting on corners, liming.'

Delroy LaFleur - miner: `They should give miners more privileges in the interior. Everything is expensive in the interior. Do you know a Chubby [soft drink] in the interior is $400? The dredge operators try to take care of their own workers but small miners need more help. A trip from Georgetown to Kurupung right now is $12,500 and if you have any additional baggage, like a box of food it could be another $12,500. We need easier access. I see that they are trying to build roads and I hope that this will make it cheaper.'

Wesley James - painter: Last year they were supposed to give us electricity in our area in Sophia, but instead they only brought a water meter. They didn't really do anything they just kept taxing me. I would be glad if I could get the electricity this year though. They should also try to create some jobs because although I am a painter I am not working right now."

Cheryl Bacon - unemployed: `What the government did for me? Nothing. Not for me. Right now I have two children at home and I don't have anything for them, I went to court for child support and right now there is an arrest warrant out for the man. He owes like one hundred and something thousand from since last year but they haven't held him as yet. I think the police need to work more efficiently in matters like this. Also, I am not working. I need a job so I can get something to provide for my family but there are hardly any.'